Romain Grosjean will drive a Formula One car for the first time since his dramatic accident at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix after world champions Mercedes organised a one-off test for the French driver.
Grosjean will drive the 2019 title-winning Mercedes W10 in a private test day at Paul Ricard on June 29 as well as completing a series of demonstration laps at the French Grand Prix on June 27.
After missing the final two races of the 2020 season due to burns to his hands, the test will mark Grosjean’s first return to an F1 car since he miraculously walked away from the fiery accident that nearly claimed his life in Bahrain.
In the aftermath of the accident, Grosjean, who left Haas at the end of last year and now races in IndyCar, said he wanted to finish his F1 career on a high rather than with the memory of the accident.
“I want to jump back in an F1 car because it has been my life and I would like to cross the finish line properly when I finish my career in Formula One,” he said at the time. “I don’t want it to be over on a bad day.”
On hearing the quotes, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said he would arrange a test for Grosjean and on Wednesday the team followed through on that promise by announcing the opportunity in France.
“I am so excited to jump back in an F1 car!” Grosjean said. “It will be a special opportunity for me and to drive a world championship-winning Mercedes will be a unique experience.
“I’m very grateful to Mercedes F1 and to Toto for the opportunity. The first I heard about the chance to drive a Mercedes was in my hospital bed in Bahrain when Toto was speaking to the media and made the invitation. Reading that news cheered me up a lot!
“F1 didn’t get the chance to race in France during 2020 because of COVID so driving a Mercedes at the French Grand Prix in 2021 and then completing a test at the Circuit Paul Ricard, my home track, will be so special. I can’t wait for the day to arrive.”
Wolff added: “We are very happy to support Romain with this special opportunity. The idea first came when it looked like Romain would be ending his active career in Formula One, and we didn’t want his accident to be his last moment in an F1 car.
“I have known Romain since his days in Formula Three when he won the Championship. He enjoyed a long and successful F1 career and we wanted to make sure that his final memories would be at the wheel of a championship-winning car. I’m excited to see what Romain’s feedback on the W10 is.
“Romain’s accident reminds us of the dangers these guys face each time they climb into the cockpit but it’s also a testament to the incredible steps this sport has taken to improve safety over the years. I know the F1 community will celebrate seeing Romain back on track.”
Grosjean visited the Mercedes factory in Brackley, U.K. on March 30 to complete a seat fitting and to spend some time in the team’s simulator to prepare for the test.
The car he will drive took 15 wins, 10 pole positions and set nine fastest laps between both drivers during the 2019 season, as well as delivering Hamilton that year’s drivers’ championship.
Hamilton said: “I’m really happy to see Romain back in an F1 car after his accident last year. When it happened, we were all praying for him and seeing him walk away from it and recover so well was a massive relief.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him again in France and welcoming him to the team for the weekend – although he better look after my W10!”